Most companies have moved beyond experimenting with social media, but few companies are experts at integrating the media into all aspects of the business.
"Managing a Facebook page to promote the latest campaign isn't really social business, it's just social added to existing interactive marketing," writes Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst at Altimeter Group.
Many companies aren't integrating social media across the enterprise. The rollout generally starts in marketing, specifically corporate communications; followed by customer support, which uses social media to respond to angry customers; followed by product teams and then connectivity with partners and the supply chain, Owyang writes.
"Companies barely even have a full view of their customers" in social media, because the customer data is locked up in silos in brand monitoring and Facebook apps and spread out across the company.
Owyang describes three criteria that determine whether a company is an advanced social business. First, he looks at whether all employees using social media "in a safe and organized way." Then he looks for data aggregated from multiple locations and for the company to be able to predict and anticipate what customers are going to do. Third, "they stop using the terms 'social business' and just use the term 'business' as this integrates into their normal digital communications."
Ad Age's Maureen Morrison says one obstacle to creating advanced social businesses is that marketers are having a tough time integrating social media and CRM. Marketers have robust CRM databases they use to target direct mail and email offers, and a growing number have strong Facebook or Twitter followings. "But few marketers have figured out how to marry the two," Morrison writes.
The idea of one grand database of consumer information, interests and intentions is the holy grail for managing marketer-customer relationships, and the idea of using social data from a network like Facebook to get there is hugely appealing. But when it comes to integrating this kind of social data, it's easier said than done.
My take: Social and CRM information need to go in two directions. If a consumer describes interactions with a brand on social media, that information needs to be recorded in the CRM database, so customer representatives are aware of the comments when they interact with the customer. If a customer declares on Twitter, "I just had a lousy flight on Pan Am," that comment will be taken into account the next time that customer interacts with Pan Am. Brands are already taking baby steps in that direction by having customer service reps monitor Twitter and other social media for customer complaints and deal with them.
Of course, monitoring customer interactions with social media is stepping into a privacy minefield. But the rewards are big for both brands and consumers.
It would be even more rewarding if the interaction went the other way -- from a brand's CRM system out to social media. Imagine a consumer who owns 10 pairs of Levi's 501 jeans. He walks into an outlet of The Gap and instantly receives push notifications letting him know about shirts and belts on sale that would go nicely with those jeans. Again, the privacy implications -- as well as the risk of alienating customers by being plain annoying -- are huge, but so are the potential rewards.
How is your company doing at integrating social media and CRM? Integrating social media throughout the business? Let us know.
— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site